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Shogun 2: Total War Review

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Wira 11th March 2011, 17:16 Quote
Hmmmm, an 8 when you practically say every aspect of the combat is flawed in some way or another?

I've played the other total war games thouroughly enjoyed them though, so I'll certainly give this one a try too.
chris66 11th March 2011, 17:20 Quote
Sigh...
I just wish it had been Rome 2 instead of this. Still, I'll buy it anyway...
paisa666 11th March 2011, 17:21 Quote
Yooooooooooooooooooooooo Hooooooooooooooooooooooo...

Yoo ho ho!! YO HOO!!
Yoo Ho Ho!! YO HOO!!
Yoo Ho Ho!! YO HOO!!
hbeevers 11th March 2011, 17:24 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wira
Hmmmm, an 8 when you practically say every aspect of the combat is flawed in some way or another?

I've played the other total war games thouroughly enjoyed them though, so I'll certainly give this one a try too.

It might be because it's actually quite good so it's just obvious to talk about those points. The good points for this will be identical to the good points for almost all other 'total war' games, a dull review to just go over the same good points as always.
I think also so many people will want to buy this that it's not a question of why SHOULD i buy it but why SHOULDN'T i?
Aracos 11th March 2011, 18:28 Quote
What difficulty was the reviewer playing on?
jon 11th March 2011, 18:44 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by storm20200
What difficulty was the reviewer playing on?

"If you actually manage to have a battle, you'll find the Bark of the Pine Tree army formation unbeatable - we managed heroic victory after heroic victory all too easily, even with the difficulty set to Hard."
Yslen 11th March 2011, 18:58 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by jon
Quote:
Originally Posted by storm20200
What difficulty was the reviewer playing on?

"If you actually manage to have a battle, you'll find the Bark of the Pine Tree army formation unbeatable - we managed heroic victory after heroic victory all too easily, even with the difficulty set to Hard."

In my experience of total war games, "Hard" means "Normal" and "Very Hard" means "Hard" for battle AI. Also, if you have better units because you're doing better on the campaign map the battled will be easy...
urobulos 11th March 2011, 21:11 Quote
Honestly guys the review is lacking a bit. I appreciate you want to have the review up ASAP, but you didn't even mention multiplayer options including the new multiplayer modes for the campaign. Are they omitted because they are bad? Insignificant? You didn't have time to review them? Honestly... The fair thing to do is to put up an article entitled "First thoughts" or something along those lines. I just don't think you can review a game as complex as Shogun 2 in a short period of time. Maybe I'm just scarred by the Empire TW and Civ 5 reviews which were uniformly 9/10 and both games were/still are broken. I'm not saying that this is the case with this review, but it does feel rushed and similar to those generic 9/10 reviews.

I like the feel of the campaign map (based on demo), but if the AI in the full version is on the same level as in the demo then this game is doomed in my eyes. I understand it is difficult to make a good AI, but this game lives and dies by it. When Shogun 1 came out, Medieval 1, hell even Rome, this series was still new. But once you master the basics of the game system, the human player will slaughter the AI both in terms of campaign map and battles. I already started to have this feeling in Rome. It used to be way too easy to expand, battle AI was completely suicidal and it was incredibly easy to achieve heroic victories when outnumbered 5:1. In Rome TW Horse Archers or Phalanx formations were invincible against the AI.
I really, really want to like Shogun 2. I love the art style. The game itself is gorgeous. Sengoku Jidai is one of the most exciting period in history of warfare.... but I feel like the most crucial part of the Total War experience, the real time battles, have not progressed.
For the sake of comparison I tried playing Shogun 1 recently and I could see very little progress in terms of AI between that game and say Medieval 2 Kingdoms. In fact it was probably more difficult since it had relatively fewer units to compose your army from which meant the AI was slightly less confused by available options. I guess what I am trying to say is A) your review feels hasty and a bit superficial and misses out crucial features of the game B) if the AI of the game is as bad as you make it sound then how can a strategy game be reviewed positively?
CardJoe 11th March 2011, 21:15 Quote
I wouldn't call the review hasty. We've been playing it since early February. As for multiplayer thoughts, I'll have Clive drop in here with more of his thoughts.
Googoo 11th March 2011, 23:00 Quote
Hmmm...You guys say it's "dumb" to maintain profitable alliances and armies. Did you make to the point where most of the opposing clans turn on you?
ZERO <ibis> 12th March 2011, 05:30 Quote
Well not having trade ships will make things easier but harder to exploit out of control like when I take 99% of all the trade spaces in the game like in empire.
GravitySmacked 12th March 2011, 09:56 Quote
I'm looking forward to this game, the demo felt very polished compared to the earlier games although I would have to without judgement until I've played the full game.

Best bet is to leave it a while until a few patches come out. There was nothing worse than playing Empire TW on a long campaign and having the game's balance ruined every time it was patched.

On a side note an 8 score on Bit-Tech is worth at least 9 everywhere else.
Aracos 12th March 2011, 11:22 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by jon
Quote:
Originally Posted by storm20200
What difficulty was the reviewer playing on?

"If you actually manage to have a battle, you'll find the Bark of the Pine Tree army formation unbeatable - we managed heroic victory after heroic victory all too easily, even with the difficulty set to Hard."

I asked because that makes it sound like he actually tried hard to see if it made a difference. But yeah I agree with hard = normal, I usually use mods to make them harder.
wiggles 12th March 2011, 12:57 Quote
I found it strange that a game that is supposedly this easy and repetetive can get an 8.
impar 12th March 2011, 13:20 Quote
Greetings!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yslen
In my experience of total war games, "Hard" means "Normal" and "Very Hard" means "Hard" for battle AI. Also, if you have better units because you're doing better on the campaign map the battled will be easy...
Yep.
VH\VH is the best way to play TW games till some modder releases a better AI.
specofdust 12th March 2011, 14:26 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by CardJoe
I wouldn't call the review hasty. We've been playing it since early February. As for multiplayer thoughts, I'll have Clive drop in here with more of his thoughts.

It can't be much more than 1200 words long, it shouldn't surprise you if it strikes people as hasty. I won't say much more than that because I don't want to be overly harsh, I'll just say that reviews could do with being several times longer.

Agree on the review not giving the picture of an 8 too, 8 should be hard to get and a great score, not something that OK games get.
itrush07 12th March 2011, 14:30 Quote
I'm a fan of war games, looks like this one is very tempting.. hope to try it soon.
urobulos 12th March 2011, 15:26 Quote
You know what would be interesting. An article on how game reviews are created for bit gamer. I was always wondering what sort of pressures the writers are under. Obviously there is the need to balance trying to come out with the review asap and giving the reviewer enough time to test all the required features. Also how one would approach testing a long or extremely complex game? Say, if one would take Fallout 3 and its main story mode then one gets a decent, but far from classic game. It's the sidequests and sheer size of the world that gives the game its epic feel. But then how one approaches a review of a game like that. How many hours is enough to appreciate the lasting appeal of the game. Especially since some titles are slow burners.

Furthermore I generally have a problem with websites reviewing strategy games superficialy. Civ 5 reviews focused on great graphic and told stories of intriguing game design and deep strategic options. That might be true when one hits the initial learning curve. The player does not know fully the concepts behind the gameplay, can't use the interface properly and so on. This learning curve masks the failure of game design during the initial contact. Thing is, if a game like Civ 5, Hearts of Iron 3 or Empire Total War takes 15-20 hours to fully grasp then this is already longer than vast majority of single player modes. Vast majority of people who buy games won't spend the next 12 months regularly coming back to the same title. They will play around for a couple of weeks and then move on to a new release without noticing the fundamental bugs in the game engine. How does a reviewer approach the need to balance their review for two different groups? Do you actually do that? Because this review feels ok for someone who will pick the game up, play around with it for a couple weeks and never come back to it again. CA was pushing the new multiplayer components very heavily during their game presentations and I am very interested in how they work. CA's inability to create a semi competent AI means that introducing a human participant into the campaign could revitalize the series. Pretty big thing imho. Besides the review simply does not state a case why the game gets an 8. For the biggest strategy game release of the year so far you could put a bit more effort into it. Then again I am reading this for free so not like I should whine too much.
Ergath 12th March 2011, 18:52 Quote
Firstly, being pedantic, the annoying merchants, and the choice of castles vs. towns was Medieval 2, not Empire (unless you take merchant units to mean trade ships?).

Secondly, I'm afraid that even as a massive fan of the series, I'll be sitting this one out, at least until it's going for silly money on Steam in a couple of years.

Why? Well, for me, the strategic map has got better with each iteration, the pinnacle so far being Empire, which had a truly great feel of scale combined with an economy complex enough to make things really interesting. Similarly, diplomacy was pretty good.

The achilles heel of all of the games has always been AI - although this seems to have got progressively worse since the days of Rome, which actually worked quite well. It's disappointing in the extreme that this is still a major issue in Shogun 2, and I can't raise much enthusiasm for a game set in the same era as Med 2 with no real advance in the battles except nicer graphics.

P.S. - still no naval invasions? to coin a phrase: FAIL.

P.P.S. I think they should release a "Kingdoms" style add-on for Empire/Napoleon covering the English civil war and the American civil war. That would be better than a retread of earlier titles.
Googoo 12th March 2011, 19:09 Quote
Guys, to be fair, the BT reviewers essentially admitted to playing an older version of the game. They've had the game since February.

Also, naval invasions do happen, in fact, one happened in the campaign play-through posted on the official forums. Here, read through this page/post:

http://forums.totalwar.com/showthread.php/7450-A-Shimazu-Campaign-Diary-%28now-complete%29?p=115700&viewfull=1#post115700

And you guys are joking if you think the a.i. in RTW, even after being extensively patched, is better.
Toka 13th March 2011, 08:49 Quote
Civ 5 is still broken

I view BT strategy game reviews with a deal more scepticism now.
Whirly 13th March 2011, 10:51 Quote
I first started playing the TW games after I picked up M:TW2 for 99p a few years back. I'm currently playing Empire after getting it and Napoleon for £6 a couple of weeks ago. I'm enjoying the experience immensely but I can't say I'm looking to buy Shogun 2 until it is going for a few quid.

Why?

I have to agree Toka: strategy games seem to be getting worse....and are often buggy/badly balanced on release. I played Empire when it first came out and promptly sold it because of it obviously was going to require many patches to sort it out. Even now I get unexplained slow-downs on a Core I7-930/GTX470!

And companies now seem less and less interested in fixing their work. It's sad to say it but nowadays the smart money waits a few months after release before buying to ensure a good experience.
jimmyjj 13th March 2011, 12:48 Quote
TW games must have the worst record for release bugs out of any software. Ever. Empire TW was a joke.

On the other hand they work really hard to sort them out and to improve their products with patches and have good community relations.

This is not an essential purchase for me, but I am sure I will pick it up at some point when it is a bit cheaper. By then it will probably be much improved by patches.
urobulos 13th March 2011, 13:55 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whirly
I first started playing the TW games after I picked up M:TW2 for 99p a few years back. I'm currently playing Empire after getting it and Napoleon for £6 a couple of weeks ago. I'm enjoying the experience immensely but I can't say I'm looking to buy Shogun 2 until it is going for a few quid.

Why?

I have to agree Toka: strategy games seem to be getting worse....and are often buggy/badly balanced on release. I played Empire when it first came out and promptly sold it because of it obviously was going to require many patches to sort it out. Even now I get unexplained slow-downs on a Core I7-930/GTX470!

And companies now seem less and less interested in fixing their work. It's sad to say it but nowadays the smart money waits a few months after release before buying to ensure a good experience.

I pirated the first Shogun game (no distributors of the game in my country at the time and I was a stupid teenager anyway, bought a copy from some Classic series recently), bought Medieval 1 for 3£, Rome on release for full price, Medieval 2 and Kingdoms for 5£; almost bought Empires based on reviews, but something told me to wait and boy was that a good decision. I might pick it up if Napoleon is on sale for 5£ or less. I'll never buy Civ 5 unless the next expansion or two fundamentaly redesign the game. Hearts of Iron 3 still is unplayable even after the expansion (any single player strategy with an incompetent AI is broken almost by definition, especially when multiplayer support for the game is poor).

I've been burnt by some of my favourite strategy games series on a regular basis recently and seeing another review singing praises to a new major release makes me highly skeptical.

Btw, question for the reviewer. From your experience, does increasing the difficulty level improve AI's gameplay, using new maneuvers, better diplomacy etc. (think Galactic Civ 2) or do they just get bonuses (Civ series, older TW games as far as I can tell)?
Jim 14th March 2011, 01:53 Quote
TW series has always been awful for cheating AI, can't see why that would change now.
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